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Attorney: UFC released Wanderlei Silva from contract

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The business relationship between Wanderlei Silva and the UFC is no more.

The UFC released Silva from his contract Thursday, his attorney Ross Goodman confirmed with MMA Fighting. Silva is now free to pursue other business opportunities, including a potential promotional agreement with Bellator that the UFC blocked in 2014, Goodman said.

The news was first reported by MMA Junkie .

Goodman also said the defamation lawsuit filed by the UFC's parent company Zuffa against Silva was settled Thursday. The attorney said the settlement terms were confidential.

"It's a good day for Wanderlei," Goodman told MMA Fighting. "We were able to get his lawsuit settled and more importantly we got Wanderlei released from the UFC. Now he's free to do whatever he wants to do."

A UFC official told MMA Fighting on Thursday that the organization would issue a statement on the matter in the near future.

Silva is currently under a ban by the Nevada Athletic Commission for evading a drug test, but will have a re-hearing in February. A Nevada judge has already ruled that the NAC's lifetime suspension was "arbitrary and capricious."

It's unclear if Silva will now attempt to sign with Rizin Fighting Federation and his former PRIDE promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Rizin holds events in Japan and regulates itself. It would not have to honor the sanctions of a commission in the United States.

"This allows Wanderlei to make a living," Goodman said. "If Bellator wants to sign him to a promotional agreement, he can go promote different events and things like that. Before, because he was under contract with Zuffa, he couldn't do anything."

The relationship between the UFC and Silva has soured over the years. The UFC filed a defamation lawsuit against Silva last July when he claimed the promotion was fixing fights and he had proof of it.

On Thursday, Silva apologized for those comments and retracted the statements in a Facebook post.

Silva, 39, is a legend of MMA and former PRIDE champion. He owns victories over the likes of Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Kazushi Sakuraba and Michael Bisping. The Brazilian, nicknamed "The Axe Murderer," is one of the beloved and popular fighters of his era.